History of Dentistry at the University of Sydney
Consideration was first given in 1897 to the possibility of establishing a School of Dentistry in The University of Sydney, when a provisional curriculum was drawn up by the Senate. However, in the absence of any law in New South Wales regulating the practice of dentistry, it was not considered appropriate to take any definite steps, and no action was taken until the passing of the Dentists Act in 1900.
The birth of the dental profession in New South Wales occurred on 1 January 1901, when the Dentists Act became operative. Prior to this time, there were no laws governing the practice of dentistry in New South Wales. Any person could set up in dental practice. However, there were some dentists trained in England who were in practice in the then colony, and these people worked hard to lay the groundwork for a dental school and to establish the practice of dentistry on a professional basis.
The Dentists Act provided for the licensing of dental practitioners who presented evidence of their qualification to a Board created for the purpose by the Act. The Act recognised any qualification which might be awarded by The University of Sydney, and there was therefore no further reason for delay in establishing a dental school. In 1901 a Committee of the Senate was appointed to complete the arrangements for the opening of a dental school. A Department of Dental Studies was established, with the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at its head. In March 1901 the Dental School opened, with seventeen students.
The Dental School offered a curriculum of three years leading to a Licence in Dentistry. The course consisted of basic science subjects such as chemistry, physics, anatomy and physiology; the medical subjects materia medica, pathology and surgery; and clinical dentistry.
A Board of Dental Studies was established, consisting of the Chancellor, the Deputy Chancellor and the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine (Chairman), as well as the professors and lecturers in the subjects of the dental curriculum and the members of the honorary staff in the Dental Hospital. The first meeting of the Board was held on 12 February 1901. Professor Sir Thomas Anderson Stuart, the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, worked tirelessly, first to establish the Dental School and then, following its inception, to promote its activities.
Initially it was proposed that dental students should obtain clinical training in the dental department of Sydney Hospital, but this was found to be impracticable. The University Dental Hospital was therefore established in 1901 for the purpose of providing dental care for persons unable to pay normal dental fees and also for the purpose of clinical instruction to dental students of the University.
The Hospital's business was carried out in a building at the corner of George and Bathurst Streets in the city opposite St Andrew's Cathedral. In 1900 a Dental Hospital of Sydney was also established by the NSW Government, to provide dental care for the poor. Subsequently the two hospitals were amalgamated by Act of Parliament in 1905, to form the United Dental Hospital of Sydney. The United Dental Hospital was established in a building on its present site in Chalmers Street, Surry Hills, Sydney.
Apart from the medical members, the Department of Dental Studies consisted of seven dental staff:
Instructor in Mechanical Dentistry:
Three lecturers in Surgical Dentistry:
NS Hinder, DDS
NB Pockley, DDS
R Fairfax Reading, MRCSEd
Three lecturers in Mechanical Dentistry:
AH MacTaggart, DDS
AC Nathan, DDS
HS du Vernet, DDS
In 1905 the Senate established the degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery, and a curriculum of four years' duration was approved for this purpose. Special arrangements were made to permit students holding the Licence of Dentistry to be admitted to the degree after a year of further study. In 1906 the first candidates were admitted to the degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery. There were thirteen candidates for the degree, including two women. Following its establishment, the Board of Dental Studies continued to plan for the eventual development of a Faculty of Dentistry. In 1910 the board proposed that a degree of Doctor of Dental Science, similar to the degree of Doctor of Medicine, be established in The University of Sydney. In 1920 the generosity of the McCaughey benefaction made possible the establishment of several new Faculties in the University, including a Faculty of Dentistry. The first meeting of the Faculty of Dentistry, at which seven members were present, was held on 8 July 1920, and Dr Fairfax Reading was elected first Dean.
The establishment of the Dental School and its later development as a Faculty owe much to the endeavours and the ability of Richard Fairfax Reading. Fairfax Reading, who held qualifications in medicine and dentistry from the Royal College of Surgeons in the United Kingdom, commenced practice as a dentist in Sydney in 1889 and, together with other dental colleagues and with Sir Thomas Anderson Stuart, had worked to create a dental school within The University of Sydney. He became the first part-time Director of Dental Studies and subsequently full-time Director and then Professor of Dentistry. He was Dean of the Faculty from 1921 until his retirement in 1934. Fairfax Reading raised the standards of dentistry as a profession in New South Wales and firmly established dental undergraduate training in the University.
In the 1920s there was considerable concern in the Faculty about transferring the dental hospital to the main grounds of the University, preferably to be associated with the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Only an absence of funds prevented the Senate from adopting this proposal.
The degree of Bachelor of Dental Surgery of The University of Sydney was recognised by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom for the purpose of registration in Great Britain and its colonies. In 1926 the Senate approved the introduction of the degree of Doctor of Dental Science, and in the following year the first degree was awarded. In 1934 Dr Alwyn James Arnott was appointed to the Chair of Dentistry following the retirement of Dr Fairfax Reading. Professor Arnott, who had previously been Superintendent of the United Dental Hospital, was elected Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, a position he held until his retirement in 1964.
The Australian Dental Association, NSW Branch, was established in 1927 with the active support of the Faculty of Dentistry and in 1928 the federal body, the Australian Dental Association, came into being.
In 1934 the Dentists Act was amended. The principal change was the abolition of the system of apprenticeship, which had allowed dentists to take apprentices or pupils in return for payment. The University of Sydney was now recognised as the only institution for training recognised dental practitioners in New South Wales.
The 1930s saw an increase of interest in dental research, and the NSW and Commonwealth Governments provided funds to the Faculty for this purpose. In 1936 the Faculty resolved to extend the curriculum of four years for the BDS degree into a fifth year. The degree became a full five-year course in the 1960s following a visit of inspection by the General Dental Council of the United Kingdom.
In 1939 a new building was established for the Faculty of Dentistry within the United Dental Hospital. The postwar period saw an expansion of the activities of the United Dental Hospital. In 1946 a Director of the Departments of Pathology and Bacteriology at the Hospital was appointed. In the same year the Institute of Dental Research was established at the Hospital with the approval of the NSW Government. The Institute, which was established to promote dental research, was based on the National Institute of Dental Research in Bethesda, Maryland, USA. Dr Neil Ernest Goldsworthy, Senior Lecturer in Bacteriology in the Faculty of Medicine, was appointed the first Director.
In the 1940s the staff of the Faculty was considerably strengthened. In the early part of the decade three lectureships were created, and later three positions of senior lecturer were established in the fields of Dental Pathology (1947), Preventive Dentistry (1948) and Operative Dentistry (1948). Subsequently, in 1954 and 1955, three associate professors in these fields were appointed. An additional lectureship in Operative Dentistry was established in 1952. In 1947 the Postgraduate Committee in Dental Science was established, to promote and develop programs of continuing education for the dental profession.
In 1959 the Faculty established the Diploma in Public Health Dentistry. The degree of Master of Dental Science was established in 1964. This was the first full-time formal postgraduate degree in dentistry in Australia.
In 1961 the Senate resolved to establish three Chairs in the Faculty, in the fields of Prosthetic Dentistry, Operative Dentistry, and Preventive Dentistry. Associate Professors Campbell Graham, John Lyell and Noel Martin were appointed to these Chairs respectively. When Professor Arnott retired in 1964, he was succeeded by Dr Mark Jolly as McCaughey Professor of Oral Surgery and by Professor Lyell as Dean of the Faculty. In 1970 Professor Martin became Dean of the Faculty.
The 1970s were a period of concern about redevelopment of dental teaching and research facilities and revision of the undergraduate curriculum. The MGM Building adjoining the United Dental Hospital was purchased by the Health Commission of New South Wales with the financial support of the Australian Universities Commission, and was converted into facilities for the Faculty. Planning commenced for a second clinical school to be established in the Westmead Centre, a major new hospital complex in the western suburbs of Sydney (now known as Westmead Hospital). The Hospital was opened for medical patients in 1978 and accepted its first dental patients in 1980. The Westmead Hospital Dental Clinical School (now the Westmead Centre for Oral Health) has become a major facility for the Faculty for both undergraduate and postgraduate education and training.
In line with developments in dental and health sciences education throughout the world, the Faculty embarked in 1970 on a review of its undergraduate curriculum. Radical changes were adopted and the first students were accepted into the new Bachelor of Dental Surgery course in 1978.
Professor Martin retired in December 1988; his successor, Professor Rory Hume, was elected Dean in January 1989 and resigned in September 1990. Professor Iven Klineberg was elected Dean to March 1992 and under a revised University policy became the first appointed Dean, holding this position to 1998. Professor Keith Lester was appointed Dean in July 1998 and held this position to June 2003. Professor Iven Klineberg was appointed Dean from July 2003 to September 2004. Professor Eli Schwarz accepted offer as Dean of the Faculty from September 2004 for a five year term.
In 1994 and 1997, new Faculty structures were introduced. Instead of departments, disciplines within the Faculty have been identified, each under the general supervision of a head of discipline. Year directors, as sub-deans, are appointed to coordinate coursework for each year of study and unit of study coordinators are responsible for individual units of study in each year.
In 2001 Faculty introduced a four-year graduate-entry program (the Bachelor of Dentistry), the first graduate-entry program offered by a Dental School in Australia. The curriculum is student-centred and modelled on problem-based learning (PBL) and is information technology-intensive, with emphasis on small group discussion. The Faculty has embarked on a strategic partnership with the Faculty of Medicine within the College of Health Sciences to support this educational initiative.